RN to BSN programs allow nurses to finish a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree without spending an additional four years in school. It will typically take between two and three years to finish your RN degree program, but you then have the option of immediately enrolling in a BSN program or returning to school once you gain some more nursing experience. The main test that nurses take is the NCLEX, but you do not need to take it more than once after passing. Though there are no other required exams, you may want to take some of the certification exams available.
Taking the NCLEX
The NCLEX is a national exam that all nurses take after finishing a program of study. You must submit your fingerprints to a local law enforcement agency and authorize that agency to use those prints to run a background check on you. The test itself is available in testing centers across the nation. After arriving early and proving your identity, you’ll have a few hours to answer questions in different applications and areas of nursing. If you prove your knowledge, the test will end early. Others will answer more than 200 questions before the test shuts off.
When Do You Take the N-CLEX?
You can only sign up to take this exam after completing a nursing program and obtaining a nursing degree. Students typically take the exam soon after graduating because the knowledge is still fresh in their minds. The longer you wait, the more time you may need to spend reviewing and preparing for the test. You can take this test multiple times until you pass, but you’ll need to pay a fee each time you take it. Once you successfully pass this exam, you do not need to take it again, even if you finish a BSN program years later.
After you finish an RN to BSN program, you may want to take one or more of the certification exams available, which lets you seek certification for a specific area of nursing. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) lists 27 specialty certification exams available as well as exams for clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. These certifications often require that you have a few years of experience in one of those specialties and that you take an extensive computer exam before getting your certification.
Why Take a Certification Exam
The biggest reason to take a nursing certification exam is because it will let you show your expertise to prospective employers. If you want to work in a pediatric care center, having your pediatric nursing certification lets you show employers that you take the care of children seriously and that you have more experience than some of your peers. Depending on where you want to work, you may find that having one or more certifications can significantly increase your starting salary and help you land a job with better benefits.
Nurses work in medical facilities and help patients every day. To work as a nurse, you must have a nursing license, which you can get after passing the N-CLEX. Once you complete an RN to BSN program and pass this exam, you do not need to take any additional tests, but you may want to take one or more professional certification exams.